Unfortunately, anything that’s metal may rust, and anything that comes into contact with that rusted metal may stain. You can get rust stains on carpets; clothes; cookware like pots and pans; tools and even hard surfaces such as driveways. Because rust can be carried in water, the thing the water runs over, like concrete, may absorb the rust if it’s porous. All rust stains are unsightly and don’t come off with regular cleaners. However, you don’t need to despair. There are many things you can do to lessen or remove the appearance of rust.
- Check clothing tags and carpet care directions to be sure that you won’t damage them. Some forms of pots and pans have delicate finishes or surfaces which can be damaged by the wrong chemical application.
- To take rust out of clothes, pour on the lemon juice. Both bottled and fresh work fine. Set the fabric out in the sunshine and let it dry before washing as usual.
- Clothing may be boiled in water with a cream of tartar added to it. You will need one tablespoon cream of tartar for every cup of water. Wash with your regular laundry afterwards to remove any residue.
- Products like Bar Keeper’s Friend which contain oxalic acid may be used to remove rust stains too, but it’s really strong stuff that could ruin your clothes by itself, so only try it if you’re really desperate. Treat and then launder normally.
- Carpets may also be soaked in lemon juice for five minutes before blotting. Alternately, try a dish detergent solution and scrub softly to loosen the rust. Be very careful not to spread the rust around to a larger area. Blot up with clean towels, and continue the process until all rust is removed.
- Provided your cookware or tools aren’t very badly rusted, soak them in a mixture of either lemon juice or white vinegar, and water. You will need one quarter cup lemon juice and one cup of vinegar per four cups of water. The let the object sit overnight and scrub if necessary. You can use things like steel wool and abrasive pads, but don’t use anything that’s rougher than you really need. If this doesn’t work, make a stronger solution and repeat the process. Stuff that’s really badly rusted—so much so that it’s started to damage the item—should be probably treated professionally.
There are some commercially sold rust cleaners which you may find work well, but if you they don’t work or if you don’t want to bother buying them, try one of these solutions. The acids in vinegar and lemon juice break rust down really nicely, but you have clean it up carefully so that it doesn’t spread. In the future, try to monitor rust and take care if before it becomes a problem. Store metal objects in a dry place, and don’t let anything rusted sit on cloth or any other porous substance that might pick up the rust.